|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.
Montague John Druitt
Montague John Druitt was named by Sir Melville Macnaghten in his memoranda as, 'The man most likely to be Jack the Ripper'. Macnaghten referred to Druitt in the following quote, 'I have always held strong opinions regarding him, and the more I think the matter over, the stronger these opinions become. The truth, however, will never be known, and did indeed at one time lie at the bottom of the Thames, if my conjections be correct'. Macnaghten went on to describe Druitt as, 'A doctor, about 41 years of age, of good family, who was alleged to be sexually insane and who's body was found floating in the Thames on the 31 December 1888'. He further goes on to say, 'A rational and workable theory to my way of thinking is that the Ripper's brain gave way altogether after his awful glut in Millers Court and he then committed suicide, and that from private information, I have little doubt that his own family suspected this man of being the Whitechapel murderer'.
Druitt was born at Westfield, Wimborne, Dorset, on 15 August 1857, the second son of seven children, to William and Ann Druitt. His father William was a doctor, as was his brother Robert and his nephew Lionel. Montague was educated at Winchester, and at New College, Oxford where he graduated in 1880 with a third-class honours degree in the classics. While at Winchester he became heavily involved in the debating society, choosing political topics for his speeches. That same year he took up a teaching post at a boys boarding school at 9 Eliot Place, Blackheath, run by Mr George Valentine. Druitt a keen sportsman, began playing for the Morden cricket club, Blackheath, and was described as one of the best players in the history of the Blackheath Club. Talented at fives, he won the double and single fives titles at Winchester and Oxford. In 1882 he started a second career in law and was admitted to the Inner Temple on 17 May. On 29 April 1885 he was called to the bar, and rented chambers at 9 King's Bench Walk. The law list records him as a special pleader for the Western Circuit and Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton Assizes. Druitt is often described as a failed barrister, if this claim were true he would have been asked to vacate his chambers. He was successful until 1885 when things started to go wrong in his life. First his father died, at the age of 65, from a heart attack on 27 September 1885. Then his mother began to show signs of mental instability and became suicidal and delusional, she would later attempt to take her own life with an over dose of Laudanum. She was admitted to the Brook asylum in Clapton, London, where she remained until 31 May 1890, when she was sent to the Manor House asylum, Chiswick, she died there from a heart attack on 15 December 1890. Suicidal urges appeared to be a trait in Ann Druitt's family, her sister had also spent some time in an asylum after attempting suicide, and their mother committed suicide while insane. On, or about, the 30 November 1888, Montague John Druitt was dismissed from his teaching job at the school, for what the press described as, 'Serious trouble', what exactly this serious trouble was, is unknown, but has led to speculation that it was due to a homosexual act with one of the pupils. While there is no evidence to support this, it does remain a possibility. Druitt was considered a successful handsome man, yet there is no record of any female companions during his life. Druitt was last seen alive on 3 December 1888. When his eldest brother William, learned that Montague had not been seen for over a week and had been dismissed from his teaching job, he went to investigate, and found a suicide note amongst his brother's possessions which read, 'Since Friday I felt I was going to be like mother, and the best thing for me was to die'.
Montague John Druitt's body was fished out of the Thames, around 1:00pm, on Monday 31 December 1888, by Henry Winslade, a waterman, the body was believed to have been in the water for about one month. The body, which was fully dressed and bore no injuries, was brought ashore and searched by P.C. George Moulson, who found four large stones in each pocket of his overcoat, £2 and 17 shillings two pence in coinage, two cheques, one for £50, and one for £16, a first class season rail ticket from Blackheath to London, a second half return Hammersmith to Charing Cross, dated 1 December, a pair of kid gloves, a white handkerchief and a silver watch with a gold chain.
The inquest was held at the Lamp Tap, Chiswick before Dr Thomas Diplock. It was concluded that Druitt had committed suicide whilst of unsound mind. He was subsequently buried in Wimborne Cemetary on 3 January 1889.
Was Montague John Druitt - Jack the Ripper. On almost every point relating to Druitt, Macnaghten is in error. Druitt was not, as Macnaghten described, 41, but 31 years of age. He was not a doctor, but a barrister and schoolmaster. He did not commit suicide straight after the last murder, but some three weeks later.
Records show Druitt lived alone at 9 Eliot Place, and did not reside with his family as Macnaghten claimed in his memoranda. Macnaghten told the Daily Mail on 2 June 1913 that he joined the yard six months after the Ripper committed suicide, saying, 'I have a very clear idea who the Ripper was', adding however, that he would never reveal it, saying, 'I have destroyed all my documents and there is now no record of the secret information which came into my possession at one time or another'. Unfortunately, the secret information Sir Melville Macnaghten claimed to possess, which caused him to favour Druitt, above all the other suspects, is unknown. In 1903, Inspector Abberline, gave an interview to the Pall Mall Gazette in response to a claim made in a Sunday newspaper that the Ripper was a young medical student who had drowned in the Thames. Abberline said, 'Yes, I know all about that story, but what does it amount to, simply this, soon after the last murder in Whitechapel the body of a young man was found in the Thames, but there is nothing beyond the fact that he was found at that time to incriminate him'.
Druitt was described as respectable in appearance, well dressed and slender in build with a moustache. Druitt may have been a troubled young man, but it is unlikely he was Jack the Ripper.
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